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The Heritage Foundation hosted a panel of Tea Party House Republicans yesterday. The congressmen were asked to respond to Sen. Rand Paul’s recent endorsement of immigration reform. Their answers, courtesy of TPM, might surprise you:
“We’re not going to round up millions and millions of people, kids and grandmas and grandpas and send them to wherever,” Rep. Trey Radel (R-FL) said, adding there were both “conservative arguments” and “emotional arguments” that should compel the House to address immigration.
In addition to Duncan and Radel, the group included Reps. Raul Labrador (R-ID), Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), Dave Schweikert (R-AZ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Steve Scalise (R-LA), and Mick Mulvaney (R-SC).
After several members expressed their support for some version of reform, they were asked as a group whether any one of them disagreed with Paul’s call to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country. The group looked to each other and shook their heads. Not one raised an objection — at most they said they wanted more details. (Emphasis added.)
There are three possibilities here. First, certain conservatives are so mesmerized by Rand Paul that they’re willing to cast off principles in order to avoid criticizing him. Second, this is a political calculation, meaning even the hardiest Republicans have fallen for the canard that the GOP can appeal to Hispanic voters through immigration reform. Or third, some conservatives are beginning to seriously reevaluate their positions on immigration issues.
I think door number three is the most likely. The congressmen listed aren’t the type to be swayed by political winds or a fellow politician. But if this is a genuine policy shift, then Republicans must proceed with caution. We have a drug war raging south of our border and an indebted government that can’t afford further entitlement or welfare costs. Immigration reform of some sort may be necessary, but it absolutely cannot exacerbate either of those problems.
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